Woman fighting Kentville parking ticket in court

Jennifer Hoegg
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Heather McNally received a ticket when she was parked in Centre Square last summer while at the hair salon. The Kentville woman plans to fight the ticket in court. – Jennifer Hoegg, www.kingscountynews.ca

By Jennifer Hoegg




She’s going to fight.

Dr. Heather McNally is refusing to pay a Kentville parking ticket and has gone as far as hiring a lawyer to help her dispute the case.  

“It’s not right,” McNally said about the ticket she received Aug. 19 after being parked in the town’s Centre Square lot.

The Kentville resident was at an appointment at In Style Hair Design on Main Street that morning and she said she returned to her car two hours and 10 minutes later.

“When I came out, Gideon (Travis) was just putting a parking ticket on my windshield,” she said. “I was very, very upset.”

McNally said the bylaw enforcement wrote on the ticket she was coming out of Loonies and Toonies, which she disputed at the time. After talking to Travis, she spoke to her hairdresser, the police and, eventually, town hall.

“They said, ‘you’ll just have to go through the court’,” McNally recalled. So she did, and is now scheduled to fight the case March 24, 2014.

“I’m not fighting it because I don’t want to pay, I’m fighting because of the principle of the thing,” she said.

Cheryl Mason, McNally’s hairdresser at In Style, says her customers frequently receive tickets.

“We’re chasing people away,” she said. “When someone pays me $120 for a service and then go out to the parking lot and get a ticket, why wouldn’t they go to New Minas, where they can park all day?”

Mason spoke to the Advertiser in February about the problem and is frustrated that town council hasn’t changed street parking limits. She has even brought a petition to the town.

“It’s all we need,” Mason said. “There isn’t a chemical treatment we can’t get done in three hours.”

Winter is an especially bad time for her clients with mobility issues, she added.

“The clients that have walkers and canes, for them to park at the all day parking… and get to us is unbelievable,” Mason said.


Solutions, not court

A court fight isn’t what McNally really wants – she wants to find solutions for other people seeking services in downtown, especially those who don’t have her agility.

An added stumbling block is knowledge of where the all-day spots are, she said.

“(A map) should be something the town should provide to patrons,” McNally said. “I know there’s a lot of free parking and that’s great, but we don’t know where that is.”

Better signage would also be helpful, she said, and moving to three-hour street parking, as recommended by a report from town staff in September, would be a good idea, McNally said.

Town council accepted the report, but rejected the three-hour change.

“I know they say it’s to prevent people from parking and just moving their car,” she said. “(But) when it comes to people abusing it, the abuse would not increase from two hour to three hour, I would think. It would solve the problem at the hairdressers totally.”

She also would like to see less stringent enforcement.

“It’s how if you’re even five minutes over he’s on you,” she said.  “I was guilty, but not by much.”


Parking puzzle

“There’s no golden answer on parking,” Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum said of McNally’s complaint. “If we made parking (times) longer or eliminated it, then it would be a situation when all the prime spots would be filled by employees, so then you would have that much more difficulty for the customers to shop.”

He said some storeowners have told the town a move to three-hour street parking would kill their business.

Balancing the need for employee and visitor parking in the downtown core is a 50-year-old problem, he said, adding it won’t be going away soon. Tickets do raise the ire of violators, Corkum conceded.

 “It’s almost the worst thing you could do is give someone a parking ticket. If they were drunk and disorderly and you locked them up over night they wouldn’t be as mad at you if you gave them a parking ticket.”

The mayor said the town would like to work with Kentville Development Corporation on finding solutions.

“Maybe there could be different ways we could accommodate people who are parking for a longer period of time and actually doing business in this town.”

In the meantime, enforcing the rules is important, Corkum said.

“We’re certainly not trying to discourage customers, we’re trying to find a balance to have available prime parking for the customers.



What did the report say?

A September report prepared by Lindsay Young, community development co-ordinator, showed there are enough parking spots to fulfill demand.

Within 600 metres of downtown, there are 458 all-day spaces on publicly-owned land.

Over a three-week period, the all-day spaces had, on average, 50 per cent occupancy rate. Centre Square, which is mostly two-hour parking, had a 50 per cent occupancy rate and two-hour street parking was 60 per cent full on average.

The report, which had included data collection on parking as well as surveys and research, recommended a move to three-hour street parking as well as a comprehensive communication strategy on parking.  

Council voted to accept the report, but rejected the recommendation of three-hour street parking.

Change has come out of the study already, including improved directional signs and a new parking map.

“All businesses were sent copies of the new parking map and were asked to share with their employees,” Young said. “Right now, we are working on upgrading signage to improve awareness of where in town you can park, and once we have all the deficiencies corrected, we will issue a package.

“Of course, in the meantime, we continue to have dialogue with repeat offenders and concerned businesses,” she said. 

Organizations: Town council, Kentville Development

Geographic location: Kentville, Style, New Minas

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Recent comments

  • Dave Reid
    December 18, 2013 - 10:38

    As a business owner in Kentville, I am very concerned when I hear repeated stories of the excessive enforcement of the two hour parking, including this one. At one time the complaint was there was no available parking in the downtown and no enforcement; now the issue is there is available parking and over-enforcement. Customer parking is essential for our businesses to survive; there has to be a balance between the two that is fair to our clients. There has to be more leniency from the Town to legitimate customers while focusing on the flagrant offenders who work in town but take up precious customer parking. Tickets to legitimate clients can and should be voided or cancelled.This can be done, but there seems to be a lack of will from the Town despite many protests from businesses and our clients. This issue is not as black and white or cut and dried as some wish to believe.

  • welcome to town
    December 18, 2013 - 09:12

    The way in which the parking is enforced needs to be addressed as well.....people are getting there tires marked on before they even get out of there vehicles..very conformational ..nothing says welcome to our town enjoy your stay like that...please please get this fixed we are trying to be a vibrant bustling welcoming town....i know a job is a job but lets use some common sense and courtesy when enforcing. we know who the abusers are and the people who are supporting our town

  • Kathryn Fotis
    December 17, 2013 - 23:02

    It is my understanding that Mark Phillips Kentville's CAO has the last word. He's the one people need to email regarding the need for 3 hour parking....AND maybe it's time for some younger people with better "vision" to get involved and on Kentville's council. As I have said before instead of trying to make Kentville a thriving town, they seem to be making it worse all the time. Dr. McNally's lawyer should get ahold of the local business owners. I'm sure many would be behind her!

  • JustMe
    December 17, 2013 - 09:30

    And that is why Kentville looks more like a ghost town... and why people shop in New Minas! I am not old enough to remember, but have been told about what Kentville use to be like when my Mom was a little girl .... but times change to keep up to all the modern things, technology, communities and towns grow. Just think of all the stores that use to be in Kentville, you had Wades grocery store, you had People s department store, plus other stores where you could by clothes. What's there now? Nothing! There is not even a "fast food" place to go eat. They are all in New Minas. We have pubs, which are too expensive for the average person.There is not enough choices / places to shop in Kentville that offer the average person what they want.

  • CommonSense
    December 17, 2013 - 06:13

    Just a tip. If you are going to fight a parking ticket in court, you probably should not be quoted in a news article saying " I was guilty, but not by much". I suspect Ms. Mcnally just wasted her money.